A Guide To The Proper Usage Of “Asshole”

Andrew Sullivan —  Aug 28 2012 @ 2:20pm

James Parker reviews Dr. Geoffrey Nunberg's new book:

Hitler, Stalin, Osama bin Laden — these, Dr. Nunberg explains by way of easing us into the subject, were not assholes. Their offenses were too terrible, the scope of their wrongdoing too vast and alien. Your idiot boss is an asshole, as is your annoying brother-in-law, your ungrateful upstairs neighbor, and the cop who gave you a ticket this morning. Asshole is "a word we reserve for members of our own tribe… It signals indignation, with an undercurrent of contempt, an emotion you can only feel towards those you feel both superior to and familiar with."